Shortage of truck drivers is a profound problem nationwide. COVID lockdowns shuttered the driving schools and made getting licenses difficult.
The Port of Los Angeles is dealing with a seaborne traffic jam, as a record number of container ships circle nearby waters to unload cargo.
A satellite image has captured more than 60 container ships that are stuck waiting to dock outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as a massive supply chain crunch hits the United States.
The extraordinary sight of vessels unable to berth is due in part because of a massive backlog that has been caused by a sudden surge in American buying ahead of the holiday season.
The number of ships that are currently anchored outside the major ports, which moves 40 percent of containers in the United States, has tripled over the course of the past two months to 62. Lines are now at their longest since the start of the pandemic.
The backup at the country’s busiest port complex has been brought on by a pandemic-induced buying boom, coupled with a labor shortage that has overwhelmed the port workforce, according to port officials say.
The shipping traffic jams come as the U.S. and some other economies are beginning to head towards normalcy and shows how messy the reopening of business is proving to be more than 18 months since the pandemic’s onset. It also shows just how fragile supply chains remain.
The root cause is the lack of drivers to haul the products to their next destinations. The situation is such that there is now a concern about the supply of toilet paper.
Ships are also backing up at other ports around the country, Bloomberg reported, as it takes longer to move containers from ships to trains and trucks. A shortage of truck drivers to collect and drop off the 20- and 40-foot steel boxes is compounding the problem.
The supply chain problem is leading stores like Costco to limit purchases of toilet paper and cleaning supplies, and even forced Nike to lower its sales expectations for the year after it reported a rare shortfall for sales over the summer.
Perhaps most troubling is the news that Robert Garcia, the Long Beach mayor, announced this week that the southern California ports are working with the Biden administration to resolve the issue.
The ports said this week that they would expand their hours for cargo pickup, with Long Beach experimenting with a 24/7 pilot program, in response to the historic cargo surge.
“The port of Long Beach is prepared to take bold and immediate action to help the supply chain move the record cargo volumes that keep our economy moving,” said Mario Cordero, the executive director the the port.
Given Team Biden’s many failures, stocking up on toilet paper may be the smart move.
Finally, the shortage of truck drivers is a serious problem nationwide. The prolonged COVID lockdowns shuttered the driving schools and made getting licenses difficult.
“It’s as bad as we’ve ever seen it,” said American Trucking Association’s Chief Economist Bob Costello.
According to the ATA, the trucking industry was already 61,000 drivers short of demand back in 2019. Then the pandemic hit.
“Truck driver training schools shut down, or they trained a fraction of what they normally do. Plus, DMV’s were issuing fewer drivers licenses because they had limited hours,” Costello said.
The result is an industry so desperate for drivers that prospective truckers are being treated like blue-chip athletic recruits.
Shipping firms are actually going to trucking schools and offering to have jobs waiting for students when they graduate.
Signing bonuses are being offered, plus full benefits.
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